Entomology, Building Envelopes, and the Environment

As an entomologist, the first thing I like to share with people is this:

All bugs are insects; not all insects are bugs.

It may seem like a riddle at first, but really it is establishing clarity in the biological classification of taxonomic rank. Whew! Science. I remember when I was in science class and my teacher told me about the phrase ‘King Phillip Came Over For Good Spaghetti’ The phrase I used to remember how the first letter of each word corresponded to the first letter in the (taxonomy order). Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. Why is this little blast from my past relevant? Under all arthropods, the class Insecta (or insect) has an order of ‘true bugs’ or Hemipterans.

Insects have both a positive and negative impact on the economy and environment. Termites are environmentally important as they are the main decomposers vital to the health of our forests and plant life. Building maintenance costs to control a pest problem far outweighs the cost of using preventive measures during the construction process, like building termite barriers into the building envelope.

Based on our current building practices, we follow building codes and try to keep up with the demand for more structures and housing for the growing population. With our millennial generation minds, people are used to getting things faster and care more about the internal aesthetics of their favorite coffee shop or what the presentation may look like but forget to look at the root cause of what is underneath. The bones of the building. The heart of the home. That granite counter top and nice wood floors. Oh yeah, those wood floors being something that termites would love to feast on. The structure doesn’t have to be build with wood for it to be on a termite’s radar. Anything cellulose-based are what termites will find, including readily feeding on the paper in drywall.

Another product to consider is the use of spray foam insulation. Such a great product when we focus on energy efficiency and R-values but can also cover areas of the building needed to be seen for a visual termite inspection. Termites can also penetrate the insulation creating termite highways gaining access to structural wood or cellulose-based products.

I think the more we know, the more we don’t know. Isn’t that the beautiful thing about life? We are constantly learning and growing, and it is in our nature to strive for better. Better job, better buildings, better quality of life. As we lean forward in our personal lives, we can also lean forward in the building and pest management industries.

Holly Beard M.S. Entomology, 1LT USAR, WWYW
TERM® Barrier Systems Division
Senior Technical Sales and Research Associate



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